With soaring demand for COVID-19 tests in the wake of the omicron variant, Dallas County Officials Tuesday announced several large testing sites for concerned residents.
Workers prepared the Ellis-Davis Field House site on Polk Street south of I-20 for re-opening Wednesday at 12 p.m.
Parkland Hospital ran a test and vaccination site at that location for 18 months of the pandemic but closed it as demand dropped last year.
Now that cases are surging again, a contractor hired by Dallas County will run the site for COVID-19 tests at first and vaccination later.
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“Even the other day when we were doing the site plan, people were showing up looking for testing and looking for vaccination,” Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price said. “The complaints have just been overwhelming that we have not had sufficient testing in the south.”
Price said Ellis-Davis was quickly ramped back up in response to the demand.
Dallas County also announced the Samuel Grand Aquatic Center off I-30 in East Dallas will host a testing site starting Thursday.
Already open are two large testing sites at the Dallas College Mountainview Campus in West Dallas and the Richland Campus in North Dallas.
The big push comes as shelves are empty as stores sell home test kits.
Small, privately operated testing sites in Dallas County have very long lines that snake into lanes of street traffic.
“The very small pop-up sites that we're beginning to see will not even begin to accommodate it,” Price said.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said the Ellis-Davis site can provide up to 2,000 COVID-19 tests each day.
“We're putting up as fast of a response, as big a response as we can, probably as big a response of any county our size,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins said additional testing sites are planned at Fair Park and at a location yet to be decided with resources to be provided by the federal government.
But Jenkins still strongly urged prevention measures of vaccination and masks.
“This masking thing is very important. And it's important that we use a surgical, well-fitting mask, and not just cloth masks because omicron will blow right through a cloth mask,” Jenkins said. “This is a very, very transmittable strain. So, what I say to people is, if you can work from home. If you can avoid those crowds, do it.”
No businesses are asked to close, though some have done so for lack of workers who tested positive.
Masks and vaccination are strongly recommended in Dallas County, but recommendations carry no punishment.
Here is a link to details on all the North Texas COVID-19 testing sites.